Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC
Sunday, April 3, Evening
By Dan Kelley
The Chicken Man
Read: Hebrews 10:35-37
“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.”
In the 1980s I went with First UMC in Maryville on a mission trip to Haiti. We met a man there with an old, faded Ralston Purina checkerboard hat. The Haitians called him the Chicken Man. He had worked for many years as an agronomist and animal nutritionist at Purina’s St. Louis plant improving the quality and nutrition of their chicken feed.
He had become depressed when he hit mandatory retirement age and his wife of many years had died. His pastor had talked him into going on a mission trip and he reluctantly agreed. He was surprised to notice that there were not many chickens in Haiti. When his mission team left, he stayed behind to teach them how to raise chickens.
He found a small hut to live in. He found discarded pallets to tear apart. He had his church send him rolls of chicken wire. With those he made cages. He studied the native plants and determined which had the most nutrition for feeding chickens. He started growing the best plants in his small lot. And he started raising chickens.
The Haitians watched the Chicken Man and his chickens. They learned to make the cages. They learned to grow or find the plants. They learned to grow the chickens. Sometimes the chicken would die from too much heat, not enough water, or an animal would get it. Sometimes the family had nothing else to eat and would eat it. The Chicken Man softly, calmly, and patiently talked with them and gave them another chicken to start over.
He had been doing his mission for almost 7 years when I met him. I asked him how he felt about it. He said he felt good in the second year when he started seeing eggs for sale in the market. He felt better in the fourth year when he started seeing chickens being sold in the market. And he knew it was a success in the sixth year when he saw children taking hard-boiled eggs to school for their lunch.
Dear Lord of Mercy Divine, grant us the patience and perseverance of the Chicken Man to continue our mission. Teach us to speak softly, calmly, and with love to those who fail, as you have spoken to us when we fail you. Amen.